The breeding method has been implemented in the NASA Seasonal-to-Interannual Prediction Project (NSIPP) Coupled General Circulation Model (CGCM) with the goal of improving operational seasonal to interannual climate predictions through ensemble forecasting and data assimilation. The coupled instability as cap'tured by the breeding method is the first attempt to isolate the evolving ENSO instability and its corresponding global atmospheric response in a fully coupled ocean-atmosphere GCM. Our results show that the growth rate of the coupled bred vectors (BV) peaks at about 3 months before a background ENSO event. The dominant growing BV modes are reminiscent of the background ENSO anomalies and show a strong tropical response with wind/SST/thermocline interrelated in a manner similar to the background ENSO mode. They exhibit larger amplitudes in the eastern tropical Pacific, reflecting the natural dynamical sensitivity associated with the presence of the shallow thermocline. Moreover, the extratropical perturbations associated with these coupled BV modes reveal the variations related to the atmospheric teleconnection patterns associated with background ENSO variability, e.g. over the North Pacific and North America. A similar experiment was carried out with the NCEP/CFS03 CGCM. Comparisons between bred vectors from the NSIPP CGCM and NCEP/CFS03 CGCM demonstrate the robustness of the results. Our results strongly suggest that the breeding method can serve as a natural filter to identify the slowly varying, coupled instabilities in a coupled GCM, which can be used to construct ensemble perturbations for ensemble forecasts and to estimate the coupled background error covariance for coupled data assimilation.